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The true story behind the Marie Stopes eugenics trial of 1923

In 1923 in Britain, a Catholic doctor won an important victory in the battle against one of the most harmful ideologies of the 20th century: eugenics. The battle was fought in the law courts when British birth control advocate Marie Stopes sued Dr. Halliday Sutherland for libel.

Had Sutherland lost the case, opposition to eugenics in Britain would have suffered a blow, and would possibly have been silenced altogether. Sutherland’s success was in large part because he was supported by the most consistently vociferous critic of eugenics in Britain at that time: the Catholic Church. But having won the legal battle, Sutherland subsequently lost the history war when the narrative of the losing side became the received history.

It is time to correct the record and, what’s more, demonstrate why it matters today. Recent developments in biotechnology mean that eugenics is back. The issues in Stopes v. Sutherland are still relevant today and, when the centenaries of past events are commemorated in the next few years, it is essential that the correct narrative is used to influence the contemporary debate.

The centenary in 2023 of the Stopes v. Sutherland trial will be an opportunity to challenge the falsehoods of the last 100 years. Catholics can reflect on the Church’s record of standing up for ordinary people against the master plan of the elites. Remembering these events will help to educate and inspire those who will take up the cause in the contemporary debate.

Read more at Catholic World Report.

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